Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Autumn walk

This past weekend we went for a beautiful walk on the greenway right behind our house. I loved it! The air was crisp and refreshing and I am just so thankful to have such beauty (basically) in my backyard!

 Turtles everywhere!

A dam!

Monday, September 24, 2012

I love the South

I really love the South. And while I don't fly a confederate flag, and I'm not actually glad that Sundays are about dressing up for church and eating fried chicken for most families (there's so much more!), I am so glad I was raised in the South and it feels like home to me. I think this passage is quite beautiful, especially the part at the end.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Autumn Coffee Table

You can either read my post here (below)... or hop on over to my dear friend, Shannon's blog today! She asked me to write a little blog post for her and I was so happy to do it :) Love you and miss you, dear friend!!

Go to A Life Well Photographed, or keep reading below.

Hey everybody! I am so honored to be posting on my dear friend, Shannon's blog today. I have read her blog for years and love it so much!

Shannon asked me to share a project, craft, or organization tip so I decided to share a quick little project that I did last weekend. My mission was two-fold: to help bring some much needed organization to our living room coffee table, and to welcome fall into our new home! I am loving the cooler weather & crisp fall air that NC is starting to have and I was anxious & ready to bring some autumny love into our living room.

Our coffee table has become a bit of a dumping ground and it's always driving me crazy with how messy it is. Take a peak at this completely unstaged picture of our embarsassingly messy coffee table...

Obviously, I was needing a way to bring some organization to our chaos, as well as beautify it with some fun fall decor.

Step one - spray paint an old black tray a new fresh color. I bought this tray at Goodwill a couple years ago for a couple bucks and have loved how many different places I've been able to use it!

Here it is in its former glory at our old apartment. 

Next, I just gathered some things from around the house to put on the tray to bring out some fall spirit. 

I chose: a handmade pitcher given to us at our wedding, 3 old books in fall colors, dried flowers in a pretty bronze vase, anthropologie bowl with wicker balls, a little candle, and two reddish orange decorative balls. The best part was that I didn't spend money on ANY of this. I just shopped around my house and tried to use old things in a new way.

Here's another picture with a flash to better show off the colors of each item.

I really love how it cleans it up and adds some organization to chaos! I love the tray even more now in that fresh white color - and it's so useful for holding things on our coffee table. Having a place to keep our coasters and our remotes is a much-needed change. And if we need to use the table to play games or eat a meal, we can just quickly clear it off by grabbing the tray.

My favorite accent - the old books. I love me some old books...

To add a little more color, I also tried some beautiful fall flowers from my local grocery store, Trader Joe's. I love how fresh flowers just add a homey and bright burst of color!

Thanks for letting me crash your blog, Shannon! And happy fall everyone!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

We Love Food

A little while ago, I did a little post about our budget - what works, what doesn't, what categories we have, etc. You can read it here if you are interested. 

Since then, we've made a few changes to help the process work a little better and I wanted to share them here! 

PROBLEM #1: Rob was doing everything for our personal budget. And I loved it. I do budgeting all day every day for my job so it was really nice to just not worry (at all) about our personal finances. However, this led to a couple different issues for us. First of all, Rob felt like he was always the bad guy when I would ask him if we could afford something and he'd have to tell me no. It also really stressed him out to be the only one looking at our finances - he was worried he would miss something, or forget to budget for a big expense, or maybe that we didn't have enough savings...and so on. It was just too much pressure and too much to put on one person. 

SOLUTION #1: I started helping with the budget. It takes basically no time and it helps him out a ton! I have just started checking mint (love this tool) daily. It's just for a few minutes and it's really helpful. I can check how much money we have left in each category (to avoid overspending), and I can help categorize our incoming expenses in the right category (so that Rob doesn't have to guess at everything). It's working really great so far and I hope it has removed a lot of the pressure from Rob to "own" our's much better to do it together.

PROBLEM #2: We always blew our budget on food. Always. Every month. We never stayed within the perimeters we set for ourselves (which are very reasonable, by the way), and we just didn't worry about it. Bottom line: We Love Food. But ya know, budgets only work if you actually stick to them :)

SOLUTION #2: We split up our monthly food budget into weekly amounts, so that we now have a weekly food budget. This has been a game-changer for us, y'all! We are finally staying within our budget easily and enjoying when we eat out even more because it is totally guilt-free. And if we go over (or under) one week than it just rolls over into the next week and we have less (or more) for food the next week. This helps if we make a big grocery run or (more likely) if we eat out one too many times the week before :)

So there's a quick budgeting update! And ps, I cannot stress enough how much we love mint. You should definitely check it out if you don't budget, are learning how to, or if you're having a tough time sticking to your budget. (And no mint is not paying me...I just love it!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fall decor inspiration

I am totally in the mood for fall. I am ready for the cooler weather, the crisp air, leaves changing, boots & leggings - the whole shebang.

I'm trying to find some creative ways to decorate on a tight budget this autumn so here are some ideas that have been inspiring me as I put it all together...

1. Love this compilation of awesome fall mantels. Modern, rustic, cheap, expensive - ideas out the wazoo.

2. I used this photo to inspire my own little coffee table decoration. This one looks better though :) (One day I want to make something that looks even more fabulous than the "ideal" picture I started from :) )

Bear with me... the next three are all similar...but I love each of them...

3. I pinned this one last year so I guess that means that I really need to do it this year. Get on that, Nicole!

4. Love the idea of combining my love of books with the fall season. Throw some burlap or linen in - sold!


5. Okay how do I do this? This is happening!


6. For some reason these three things scream fall to me: coffee beans, burlap, and cinnamon sticks. I love the rich colors and homey smells. I need to find some way to incorporate these into my home.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Happiness

A couple things that are making me smile on this happy Friday...

1. I'm almost completely off caffeine! I weaned myself off my dependency this week for no particular reason except that I felt SO unhealthy every time I got a caffeine headache.  I didn't want to quit cold turkey because I cannot afford to have a caffeine headache lead into a I used the very official Dr. Oz plan :) (Check it out here.)Yesterday was TERRIBLE, but today was much better! Feeling like I have energy again and my headache is not nearly as bad. Yay!

2. Beyonce Fridays. I think from now on, I will be listening to Beyonce on Fridays - it has been the best accompaniment to my workday :) Current Favorites: Countdown, Love On Top, Crazy In Love.

3. I'm directing my second wedding this month tomorrow! Cannot wait to see this beautiful, unique wedding come together. 

wedding directing shoes :)

4. This GORGEOUS weather! Every time I step outside, I am just immediately happy. I love it! Plus we've gotten to spend some great time outside at night after work - going for a walk, and using our little chiminea! I love fall nights.
our chiminea one night this week

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Plans & Progress - The Basement

Slowly but surely we are adding to and furnishing our basement. We have a partially finished, huge space downstairs (>600 sq feet) that we cannot wait to finish off completely. But since we do not have a whole lot of cash flow right now, it will definitely be finished in bits and pieces over time.

One huge change to our household that has greatly affected our use of the basement: we have a new roomie! One of our good friends, Sandy, has moved into our basement for a little while. We are so excited to have him and I am honestly just impressed that he is willing to live down there :) He is working with Rob at FCA so it works out perfectly to have him live with us. Our basement is also sets up really well to have somebody live with us - he has his own entrance and level, so he has plenty of privacy. The only thing I wish we could add down there is a bathroom. In the meantime, he does have his own bathroom on our level. 

Meet Sandy! He's pretty much the bomb (can we please start saying that again??)

So we did a few things to clean things up for him before he came - we didn't really add much - we just SCRUBBED everything. We spent a good full weekend cleaning it all for his arrival. We lined his shelves in his closet, put some lamps down there, got him a welcome mat, etc. During that time, I developed great anxiety that he would walk in, see our basement, and change his mind. Rob said "he's a guy...don't worry". 

But he's here (he didn't walk out) and we love having him! This week we added an alarm keypad to the basement so that he doesn't have to come in upstairs (into our bedroom) to turn off and set the alarm. The basement is already armed with the alarm of course but just adding another keypad will help with convenience and functionality.

Here are the before pictures of our partially finished basement on the day we  moved in...

View as you walk down the stairs...

View to the right at the bottom of the stairs (Ps I totally dig that light - it's staying)

View to the left at the bottom of the stairs

Basement bedroom - check out that paneling!

Bedroom closet - semi scary :)
And see that little under the stairs closet behind the door? Awesome.

Little hallway next to the stairs

Utility closet

Separate entrance

View from the door 

Nice big window in the main space

Basement stairs

Things we love:
-Already wired for electricity
-Finished floor
-Finished HVAC
-One room already partitioned
-big utility closet
-Separate entrance
-Good amount of light for a basement
-Cinderblocks already painted white :)
-Preparations for a ceiling already started

Here's what we are thinking for phases of renovation in the basement:

That's kind of the progression I'm envisioning. We'll see what money & time allows :)

Here is what we are looking at for Phase 1. 

Phase 1: Spruce up existing basement space, add ceiling.
-Paint...pretty much everywhere :)
-Overhead lighting in the bedroom
-Insulation for the ceiling - both sound and heat
-Carpet removal on stairs
-Paint stairs
-Paint HVAC units
-Finish paneling over cinderblocks
-Bigger tv for downstairs
-Add ceiling

Here's what we've done to the main space so far! I didn't include any pictures of Sandy's bedroom (we try to respect privacy around here :) ). 

Rob's workout space & dart throwing area (including a chalkboard for keeping score) (Future entertainment area in Phase 2)

Key to the workout area - LOUD speakers. I'm telling you - homeboy cranks up his music when he's doing pushups.

Entertainment area/Man Cave (future bedroom in Phase 2)
Things to note: awesome most comfiest leather couch, rug & curtains from Sandy's mom :) , chairs from the Dean Dome created into a bench (hello man cave perfection), & Carolina posters everwhere.

Sandy also has a chair from the Georgetown basketball bench (he ran cross country there). It just completes our Man Cave basement!

Awesome Tar Heel Sports Illustrated covers framed over the tv. 
(Thanks for the middle one, David!)

Dean Dome chairs. Awesome.

We haven't done much but it's definitely an improvement:) Cheers to a work in progress!